By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

Every Passion is a weakness

Scott Adams got my vote of God-like genius (remember the NME awards) when he wrote:

Everything that motivates living creatures is based on some weakness or flaw. Hunger motivates animals. Lust motivates animals. Fear and pain motivate animals. A God would have none of those impulses. Humans are driven by all of our animal passions plus loftier-sounding things like self-actualization and creativity and freedom and love. But God would care nothing for those things, or if he cared would already have them in unlimited quantities. None of them would be motivating.

Just yesterday I was talking about this to one of my friends. Nice to know that there are people who think alike.

Any of your passions is a weakness in itself. Maybe you will excel at it, but it will still remain your weakness. If paranioa drives you to success, it is that same very fear that might spell your downfall. If you are in love, you've put yourself in a weak position - something that might give you loads of joy at times, but then can cause you a equally strong pain. One of the best statements, is that even the hyped stuff like self-actualization can make you do things irrationally - causing defeat.

I'm damn weak!

True Belief

Scott Adams writes in his book 'God's Debris':

If you believe a truck is coming toward you, you will jump out of the way. That is belief in the reality of the truck. If you tell people you fear the truck but do nothing to get out of the way, that is not belief in the truck. Likewise, it is not belief to say God exists and then continue sinning and hoarding your wealth while innocent people die of starvation. When belief does not control your most important decisions, it is not belief in the underlying reality, it is belief in the usefulness of believing.

Makes me wonder what rational self-interest of man should be the guiding principle of life - or should it be that 'altruism'/ a toned down version of 'communism' are better - or are atheists the most logical of all people.


Heaven & HELL

A fortnight to go for the end of my third year at this hallowed place - BITS Pilani.

I remember, exactly one year ago, I blogged about my second year - quoting Charles Dickens as

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

This time around, things haven't been much different either. But, this time I would rather quote Black Sabbath:
So it’s on and on and on, it’s heaven and hell, oh well

The title song of the album 'Heaven & Hell' from Black Sabbath is undoubtedly one of their finest pieces. Truly captures how life has been here at BITS.

Just when I thought after my transfer to EEE, that I am one step closer to the dream, Sabbath said
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you’ll know that you’re dreaming

Just when I thought that I have actually reached Heaven and am experiencing true joy, Sabbath said
Well if it seems to be real, it’s illusion
For every moment of truth, there’s confusion in life

Just when I thought that life is so fair, Sabbath said
They say that life’s a carousel
Spinning fast, you’ve got to ride it well
The world is full of kings and queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams
It’s heaven and hell, oh well
And they’ll tell you black is really white
The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls
You get to keep the gold that falls
It’s heaven and hell, oh no!

Sabbath bloody Sabbath!! You guys kick ass!


An excerpt from Herman Hesse's Siddartha:

"Things are going downhill with you!" he said to himself, and laughed
about it . . . and he also saw the river going downhill. . .

I've been going downhill for two years now...

Secondary(?) Joys

When we achieve something ourselves, the happiness within - I term it 'Primary Joy'. And assuming liberty - I would term the joy we feel when we see somebody else achieve something great as 'Secondary Joy'.

(Mind you, these are just some asinine nomenclature I have come up with to put things across the table)

Now, the question is (over which I've been pondering for sometime)..
How do secondary joys actually make us happy? and Why?

  • Why do we feel elated when Team McLaren makes it 1-2 at a Grand Prix?
  • Why do I feel elated when my brother wins the best quiz in town?
  • Why do I feel elated when my best friend aces a exam?

The more pertinent point is why is all this elation almost equivalent (or sometimes greater) than a primary joy?. My primary assumption was that man is inherently a egotist, atleast deep within.

Pondering (obviously soaked in secondary joys)....

The agony of anticipated defeat

Today morning, I come out of my class, after writing a couple of quizzes (which for a change, I cracked!), and I see a whole bunch of first-yearites coming out of classrooms - just after finishing a Chemistry test. I spoke to one of them - it seemed as though he had tears in his eyes - who said that it went really bad.

My mind instantly ran back a couple of years. As a first yearite dying for a transfer, I could see myself in him. A test went slightly bad - and there I would have been sulking away till a week. It was plainly the agony of anticipated defeat.

Now, the fire is gone, the hunger is gone, and so is the agony.


You are one of the Directors on the board of a multi-billion dollar Semiconductor Company. The Board is contemplating chucking the CEO on accounts of him being non-commital to work. The CEO tries making his case, but gives up as he believes that he can't give any valid reason to substantiate his case. He begs for a second chance. You know that he thoroughly deserves one. But more than half the board votes against him. You know that the CEO doesn't deserve it. But, you are helpless. He is removed from the post. You are impotent.

You are a member of the Grand Jury adjudging a case of misappropriation of funds in a recent celebrity event. The Director of the Event Management firm is the man on trial. He desperately tries to prove his innocence by rubbishing the claims made by the prosecution team. The arguments he makes make sense, but the other members of the Jury don't think so. You somehow seem to buy his arguments, because you worked in an Event Management Firm before, and you know how it works. You know that he is not guilty. But the Jury convicts him 7-5. You are impotent.

At times in life, you are put in a position wherein you are almost given the power to take a decision - 'almost'. But, then the final decision would be something that you never wanted. That's when you realize your impotence.


Have you ever taken any decision in life wherein you have placed someone else higher than yourself and taken it in his/her interests, without the least bit of selfish interests?

1. An action is said to be altruistic only if totally free of selfish motives
2. A selfish motive can be found for every human action
3. Therefore no human action can be said to be altruistic.

But, I beleive that there can be instances wherein the selfish motive behind any decision can be sometimes very trivial or at least minor compared to the good impact it can have on somebody else.

It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others - a doctrine which is extremely offensive to both parties, leaving men no choice but the roles of sacrificial victim or moral cannibal...
- Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, June 1966

I agree. A true altruist cannot exist. Ha! Reminds me of these Bollywood movies wherein the hero sacrifices his girlfriend to some other guy just because he thinks that she will live better with him. Now, he is a partial altruist. As he stands to gain almost nothing - 'almost'. The only thing that he tends to gain is his personal satisfaction that his love was pure. Now, this makes him an egotist. This, makes me agree with Ayn Rand when Howard Roark said during his trial -
The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner.

Yes, that's the idea. We are all egotists, but to reach the absolute sense - well, that's possible only in fiction.

And thats where I see myself at this point, wherein, I am forced to think whether I am right in taking a decision by keeping someone else's interests higher than mine. The reasons might be numerous.

Thinking of examples, what if your Dad always wanted you to be a doctor, whereas you wanted to be a Lawyer. Which one would you choose?
Arg 1: It's my life. My interests.
Arg 2: It's Dad who has who has fed me, taught me and made me the man I am now.


Dogbert & My academic life

4 days of sickness.
2 days of sleep and nothing but sleep.
2 tests which go to the dogs.
1 test unwritten - Makeup!
2 assignment submission deadlines missed.
3 assignments on their way.
3 practical classes missed - Have to redo them.
1 more month of hellish acads to go.

I am bored of this insanely evil academic life.
I think all my professsors have 'Dogbert' as their middle name!

PS: One bigger reason, why I am pissed is because of
2 digit cell-phone balance losing a digit.

Salvation is here

After a very very long time, I come across a song with profound lyrics!
Something, that I can totally relate to.
Amazing lyrics - equally great music - especially the vocals!

So, here's 'Dare you to move' - Switchfoot

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next
What happens next

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
Tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

PS: Google Talk almost trigerred me to put up a Google Logo in my room and start worshipping it!

And I would give myself away...

Kahlil Gibran said:

"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."

Dream. Dream. Dream. Period.

That's all I have been doing since I was a child. And yes, in the twists and turns that my life has taken since then, I have achieved some of my dreams, and many have just remained dreams. But, I believe that everything's happened for the good. A major part of my BITSian life (after I metamorphosed into who I am today), is chronicled in this blog (many of them esoteric as Aravind rightly pointed out).

And here is one more.

As I am about to kiss goodbye to being 19, and turn 20 in a couple of months, I stare at the clear summer sky in Pilani and ponder. What am I going to do in life? Out there in the quick, fast world away from the security that BITS offered, will I be the man I want to be?

I remember the days in my freshman year at BITS when I dreamt of doing a PhD in a top US University and spend the rest of my life doing research in some R&D organization. The sands of time trickled. I changed. The very first taste of the world of entrepreneurship was too lip-smacking. And I've never looked back. I'd blogged about it here.

And then came, what people here call the crux of a BITSian life (academically atleast!) - the dreaded CDC year, where one is made to writh in pain under the harshest of courses and schedules. And me being a EEE student, made matters worse (worst is the right word!). Considered a litmus test for one's academic acumen, every course in this year got the better of me. I was reduced to an average student in every course. A slight correction in grammar would incorporate the fact that I am still being reduced so. And there goes my R&D dream! I found out that I am not a EEE guy. Worse off, I fared well in most of my projects, giving me a contrasting feeling that I am actually good at what I like. As of now, I love doing technical projects which are closer to my area of interest (which is hardly EEE or pure CS), but with an excellent(!) record as mine, I am sure not to get quality admits for a MS or a PhD in a reputed US University. (Reminds me of Aravind cribbing about the same)

Then the ugly demon raises its head again - What next? My heart yearns to start-up on my own with a few pals of mine. A startup in any industry - tech, non-tech, social, whatever - I am game! But then, the issue of family responsibilities crops up. The responsibility of becoming financially independent, of being to live on bread that I earn, is pretty heavy on the shoulders. The fear of not being financially sound by the time Dad retires, and atleast till little bro begins to make his living. And I sulk. Being born in a middle-class Indian family has its own highs and lows.

Left with nowhere else to wander, I can think only of two alternatives - CAT or a job. It's been my steadfast principle that I will not do an MBA till I have about 2-3 years of work experience on my resume. And I stick by it. So, CAT goes to the dogs.

Ah! Choice is an illusion, my son. You are left with no choice but to take up a job just as any other average batchmate of yours would. And that hurts. For somebody who always dreamt to be different, for somebody whose parents wished that their son would study atleast a couple of degrees and then join a job to earn a sound salary, for somebody who hates mediocrity - the very thought of sounding mediocre for a couple of years, burns a hole in the intestines. But, there is nothing good, nothing bad, there is just life!

To summarize, for the next 10 years or so, I will be joining Tom, Dick & Harry in their daily activities and routine life. But, I know what I want to be.

Over a year, I have seen it grown in one of the corners of my heart, slowly, silently, yet strongly - the urge to give back to the society what it actually deserves - the best of me. I blogged about it once after a train journey from Banglaore to Mysore, and also once after I visited a neighbouring village. And the feeling has grown stronger ever since.

Over the past few months, I have wept at the poverty and suffering of people around me. Everytime I step outside the BITS campus, into the town of Pilani, into the rural heartland of Rajasthan, an empty feeling in my stomach greets me. Back in the room, I sit and code, I sit and cram, I sit and surf the net, I sit and devour a packet of Lays - but out there I see nothing but mountains of hope and courage amidst crushing poverty. I know that this is how the society is - there is always a gap between the rich and the poor - but am I doing anything, any goddamn thing to make the society more equitable? Would my scoring an 'A' grade in the Analog & Digital VLSI Design course help them directly? Yes, you might scorn at me for what might seem as bullshit. You might argue that you are doing the best to seek good education so that you can give back to the society. Agreed. You would one day become a top-notch Engineer at Google and earn thousands of dollars, you would set up charity funds, you would donate them to help people. But, you just end up at a higher strata of the society and try to extend your hand of help from there. Won't help as much as it would have if you could stay with these people and push them up. And that is what I want to do in life.

When I see this kid on the desktop wallpaper of my computer everyday, I shuffle in my seat, and the resolve grows much stronger. The resolve to see that kid educated to the best extent possible. IMHO, a longdrawn but safe and smooth way of reducing the inequities in the society would be to educate the present generation of kids.

One fine day, when dentures hang in my mouth, bifocals cover my eyes, a walking stick lazes around by my side, and a cup of steaming coffee waits in my hand, I want to tell my grandchildren playing in the garden in front of me, that this is the India I dreamt to live in - a country where every citizen is empowered and every citizen knows how to make the best use of it.


Then the first of an uncomfortable silence happens.

MIA: Don't you hate that?


MIA: Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?

VINCENT: I don't know.

MIA: That's when you know you found somebody special. When you can just shit the fuck up for a minute,and comfortably share silence.

VINCENT: I don't think we're there yet. But don't feel bad, we just met each other.

PS: Script from Pulp Fiction. Just love the dialogues in the movie.


This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


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